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The Importance of Prayer Essay

Prayer can be defined as a reverent petition made to God, a god, or another object of worship, or the act of making a reverent petition to God, a god, or another object of worship; an act of communion with God, a god, or another object of worship, such as in devotion, confession, praise, or thanksgiving; a fervent request; the thing requested; or the slightest chance or hope. Prayer can just simply mean communication with God. Prayer can also lead us into dependence upon God. It involves many aspects and sometimes produces faith. A person with faith without prayer is like a skeleton less a body. Prayer can lead us to confession, conviction, conformation, declaration, decisions of righteousness, standing firm in Jesus, and a victorious life. The importance of daily communication through prayer cannot be overestimated. It is so important that it is mentioned over 250 times in Scripture. Daily prayer gives us an opportunity to share all aspects of our lives with God. Second, daily prayer gives us the chance to express our gratitude for the things He provides.

Third, daily prayer provides the platform for confessing our sin and asking for help in overcoming that sin. Fourth, daily prayer is an act of worship and obedience. And finally, daily prayer is a way to acknowledge who is really in control of our lives (http://www.gotquestions.org/daily-prayer.html). Only prayer can invite God’s presence and God’s presence can bring an anointing in our lives. It is through knowing God in prayer that He is able to touch someone’s condition and give wonderful divine revelations. Many of God’s servants are unfit for the Lord’s work because they don’t have a prayer life. Without prayer, God’s servant is like a ship without a sail, not knowing God’s direction and therefore frustration and disappointment replace victory and confidence. A prayerful servant will not only be of use to God but will also know the direction God is leading him.

Beginning in Matthew 6:6, we learn that Jesus’ followers are not to make a show of their praying, as hypocrites did. It does not mean that all prayer should be done in private, but sacredly, avoiding all babbling. Jesus didn’t ignore or condemn the lengthy prayers, just the meaningless verbiage. Matthew tells us about what we now know as the “Lord’s Prayer”. It was initially “The Disciples’ Prayer”, and was a model for the Disciples. The prayer nestles at the literary center of the Sermon on the Mount, and the surrounding texts in the Sermon echo the prayer’s concerns. It contains six (6) petitions; three (3) relating more directly to God, and three (3) to us. The order of these petitions is significant and intentional. According to Thomas Watson, all our petitions must agree and harmonize with the things contained in the Lord’s Prayer. (http://www.gracegems.org/Watson/lords_prayer1.htm) The first petition is: “Hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). In this petition, we pray that God’s name may shine forth gloriously, and that it may be honored and sanctified by us, in the whole course and tenure of our lives.

This petition is set in the forefront, to show that the hallowing of God’s name is to be preferred before all things. It is to be preferred before life. It is the first and great petition, and contains the weightiest thing in true religion, which is God’s glory. The second petition in the Lord’s Prayer is “May your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). The kingdom of heaven implies a glorious fruition of all good. The third petition is: “May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). This petition consists of two parts: the matter—doing God’s will; and the manner—as it is in heaven. The fourth petition in the Lord’s Prayer is “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). In this petition there are two things observable—the order, and the matter. The order is giving God all of his glory, while the matter is for God to give us such a competency in outward things, as he sees most excellent for us. The fifth petition speaks on Matthew 6:12: “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” And lastly, “Lead us not into temptation—but deliver us from evil.”

Matthew 6:13, is the sixth petition. This petition consists of two parts: First, “Lead us not into temptation.” Here, God permits sin, but does not promote it. Satan is the tempter. And secondly, “But deliver us from evil.” God will not allow us to be overcome by temptation, or that we may not be given up to the power of temptation, and be drawn into sin. Other books in the New Testament attribute to the importance of prayer. For the apostle John assures us that God will hear us when we pray “according to his will” (1 John 5:14). And sure we pray according to his will—when we pray according to the pattern he has set us. Prayer will lead us to everyday confessions before God, clean the heart and prepare us to see God (Matthew 5:8). God can never be wrong in what He does and only seeking Him in prayer are we able to understand His direction. Prayer life will give us fellowship with the Lord. Fellowship will give us a close relation with the Lord. The relationship will give love. Love will give dedication, and dedication will give life for one another.

The book of James has many parallels with the Sermon on the Mount (Van Voorst, pg. 485). It is understood that James 5:13-18 can be a very difficult passage to understand. However, the main point of the passage is very clear though. Here, James emphasizes the importance of prayer. As a matter of fact, he mentions it in every verse. Through the passages, we can see: 1) the importance of individual prayer, 2) the importance of community prayer, and finally 3) the effectiveness of prayer. James highlights suffering and trials throughout the course of his letter. There were people in the churches to whom James wrote that were suffering. Some were suffering with the inner experience of enduring difficult situations. In other words the frustration, the disappointment, the fear, the loneliness, or whatever you may struggle with when you are trying to endure. James provides the answer to our suffering when he says, “then he must pray.” Prayer is the answer. Our first reaction when something goes wrong is probably either anger or self-pity, neither of which accomplishes anything.

But James tells us to fight this initial urge by turning to God in prayer. When struggling with frustrations, one must trust that God is in control, and turn to Him in prayer. In Chapter1, verses 2-4, James tells us to consider a trial an occasion for joy because it builds up endurance within us. Thus, we should know that we will be comforted by God in the midst of trials, and be able to see God’s work in the midst of trials. We can pray for God to change our situation, but it would be better if we prayed for the wisdom to understand how God was working through these trials so that we could have joy in all situations. James talked specifically about this prayer for wisdom in Chapter 1, verse 5: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives generously and without reproach and it will be given to him.” James wants his readers to know that God is in control of all situations, good as well as bad. As we already saw when things are bad we are to pray. And as James continues we see that we are to sing praises when things are good. Songs of praise are a form of prayer. So whether it is in the midst of suffering or in times of joy we are to seek God out in prayer. Some people tend to find that it is easier to seek God out for comfort in midst of a difficult situation than it is to praise God for giving them comfort.

When things in our life are easy we tend to forget that God has made them that way for our good. James reminds us that our joy is the result of God’s work in our life and we must praise God for that work. In the article, Christian Clients’ Preferences Regarding Prayer as a Counseling Intervention, the authors Weld and Eriksen speak on the importance of prayer in counseling. Surveys were administered and studies showed that a vast majority of clients and therapists preferred prayer in counseling. Regardless of religious beliefs, they both felt the need to incorporate prayer. While some preferred silent prayer, some wanted audible prayer, as well as to include some kind of homework that required prayer. The authors researched and found studies that supported the idea that prayer was useful; however, those studies did not “establish client expectations related to the use of prayer in psychotherapy, or whether clients want themselves or the counselor to initiate in-session prayer” (Weld & Eriksen, 2007).

In completing their research and studies, it was determined that prayer is also very useful in counseling intervention. While therapist saw prayer as a need, clients saw it as a want. Therapist believed prayer to be a healing and therapeutic process. Clients believed it to be a comfort zone. Whereas some of the clients didn’t know how to pray, whether it is silent or audible, others were embarrassed or shield away from public speaking. Prayer is needed in all aspects of life. While society is constantly changing, we need prayer to survive and remain productive. As stated before, we need to have constant communication to God. We need to be thankful for what we have and/or what we are yet to receive.

Life is too short to wonder about the “what ifs”. I am a prayer warrior. I find it relevant to pray when things are going good just as much as I pray when they are going bad. Although they have taken prayer out of the schools, I find it imperative to teach our children about prayer within our individual homes. This will follow them as they endure their own trials and tribulations of life. Once taught, it becomes instilled within them. Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” I am a firm believer in that verse because my mother trained me to read the Bible and to pray consistently over all things. Just as we need air to breathe, I believe that prayer is needed in order to survive.

References

Eriksen, Karen and Chet Weld. (2007). Christian Clients’ Preferences Regarding Prayer as a Counseling Intervention. Journal of Psychology and Theology, Volume 35 (4) 328-341.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible: With the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford 2001.

Van Voorst, Robert E. (2005). Reading the New Testament Today. Belmont, CA:
Thomson Wadsworth.

Watson, Thomas. The Lord’s Prayer. Retrieved November 16, 2012 from
http://www.gracegems.org/Watson/lords_prayer1.htm

Why is daily prayer important? Retrieved November 16, 2012 from
http://www.gotquestions.org/daily-prayer.html


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